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Innovation, Talent, and Behavioral Observation

#MBA #Innovation #BehavioralObservation

Are you an iPhone or Android user? Or something else…? It is likely that many of you have been surprised by the same ringtone as yours in a Starbucks or at work. Back in the feature phone era, everyone would download an individual sound source and use it as a ringtone, but now it feels like most of us use the default setting as it is. But why is that so, if the ringtone can also be changed in smartphones? The reason is said to be the existence of a whole variety of apps. Nowadays, what matters most to smartphone users is not the “phone” feature, but non-phone-related apps such as “LINE,” “Instagram,” “Maps,” and so on.

Around 2005, before the first iPhone appeared in 2007, a cellphone company conducted a large-scale survey with its customers. Surprisingly, below are the top three functions expected in the next-generation phone:

  • 1seg
  • Wallet Mobile
  • Internet

As a matter of fact, the answer that took last place was “a rich app function.” Now, though, all we use is apps. This is a traditional example of a situation wherein users can only give answers as an extension of the products and services they currently use. What, then, should we do? The answer is thought to be found in cultural anthropology. When they encounter an “unknown tribe,” cultural anthropologists do not conduct a survey with questions such as, “Are you satisfied with your current life?” or “What would you like to do in the future?”; they instead meticulously observe the behavior of that tribe.

This technique can also be used in business environments. By conducting a detailed observation of people’s behavior, it is possible to identify needs that not even the consumers themselves can express in words. For this reason, companies are actively employing this approach to better understand their consumers and employees and develop more popular products. Naturally, the field of “behavioral observation” is an essential element to the development of innovation talent, and therefore it is being actively adopted into MBA education.